At the top of Italy’s boot, along the Mediterranean Sea, is a strip of rocky coastline called the Cinque Terre. Five tiny villages, in shades of ochre, gold, russet, and terra cotta, cling to the cliff above the water. The tall bearded ‘Cinque Terre’ iris, new for 2011 from Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, transports these bewitching hues to your garden in each of its exquisite blooms. Tall, sturdy stalks carry up to 10 buds each. At Gardening How-To, we were so bowled over by this flower’s gorgeous colors that we chose it as one of the best new varieties of 2011. (See New Varieties Web Extra here.)
Common name: ‘Cinque Terre’ iris
Botanical name: Iris ‘Cinque Terre’
Plant type: Perennial
Zones: 3 to 9
Height: 3 to 4 feet
• Sun: Full to part sun
• Soil: Average, well-drained, slightly acidic
• Moisture: Medium
• Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture in the soil.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: A light application of bone meal in the spring and about a month after bloom can be helpful.
• By division
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to crown rot and other rots, leaf spot, rust, and viruses.
• Common pests include aphids, iris borers, whiteflies, and snails and slugs.
• ‘Cinque Terre’ blooms late for an iris—in late May or early June. Like most irises, it does not rebloom.
• Give your iris a site with at least a half-day of sun. Full sun is best. ‘Cinque Terre’ is said to be sun-fast, meaning that the color won’t fade even in direct sun.
• ‘Cinque Terre’ will spread slowly to form clumps. These should be divided every third or fourth year. If irises are overcrowded, they will not bloom as vigorously and they will be more vulnerable to disease. Thin clumps by removing the older growth at the center of each clump or by digging up the entire clump and dividing it.
All in the family
• There are more than 300 species in the Iris genus.
• Also in the Iridaceae family are the genera Crocus, Gladiolus, and Sisyrinchium.
Where to buy
• Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, Salem, OR, 800-525-2367, www.schreinersgardens.com
(Photo of Iris ‘Cinque Terre’ courtesy of Schreiner’s Iris Gardens)